Stan Webb, Artist or Scientist?
A visit and interview with the owner of Concrete IDEAS.
So Stan Webb, are you an Artist or a Scientist? Come to find out, he’s actually both.
When I first met Stan he told me he made concrete countertops but when I sat down with him in his Concrete IDEAS shop, he told me that he retired from VCU where he was a Biologist in a research lab. He started Concrete IDEAS in 2005 after being trained and taking part in an apprenticeship at the Concrete Countertop Institute in Raleigh NC.
What are the benefits to having Concrete IDEAS countertop?
Stan can make a counter top for start to finish in three weeks. The three-week process flows through the following steps; set form, pour concrete, cure concrete, sand concrete, stain concrete (if applicable), and seal the concrete. Stan typically makes the counters 1 ½ thick, which is similar to 3cm granite. Custom shapes are created without material waste therefore you pay for what you get.
Stan has an eye for matching color and the experience of what to mix to achieve the client’s needs. Pretty much you can have any color. For integral color, Stan starts with pigment of industrial Iron Oxide and blends the colors to product the exact color the client desires. You can further customize your countertop with other elements like stone, glass, mirror, and metal. Whether you provide the objects or Stan does, anything goes. There were only a couple of items he tries to stir away from including wood and aluminum.
Another really cool thing about this product is if you color it topically and in the future you want to change up the color, you can. It just involves stripping, sanding and re-staining the surface, this great for those “I want a pink countertop” moments.
Stan tries to be a “green” as possible in his building practices, which includes finding replacements for Portland cement, adding recycled glass like beer and wine bottles, and recycles and filters water used in the sanding process. Stan is proud to say that he not only meets but exceeds LEED requirements for recycled content, 20%-30%, Stan is running close to 50% on all his projects.
More interesting facts about concrete countertops.
Concrete counters can be installed on standard base cabinet and there is no need for added support. You see, the slab is re-enforced so the weight of the product is distributed evenly. For all you building/number geeks, that would be 15 to 16 pounds per square foot, psf. And 12 linear feet is the max. for one piece of concrete because of weight. Like traditional countertops, concrete countertops are seemed on-site with epoxy adhesive.
An average Kitchen countertop project will run in the neighborhood of $3,500 to$ 5,000 and Stan offers a one year structural guarantee. A straight run of countertop is priced out at $85-$110 a square foot; this is comparable to granite at Home Depot. Embedding light would raise the price to about $150 a square foot. He also states that each job is different, on projects where it a custom design pricing becomes difficult to price per square foot, therefore unique projects get price per job and the best bet is to call Stan to discuss the details.
The product is sealed with a topical sealer that is dry to the touch in 24 hours and over the next four days it becomes harder. Simple sealers sold to DIYers hold up for about 6 months, but this all depends on the used it gets. Stan seals the counters with a water base sealer. And depending on the wear and tear of the counter, re-sealing should be done every 2 to 3 years, similar to caring for a hardwood floor. Satin, semi-gloss and gloss finishes available. Or it can be left un-sealed and you can enjoy the patina that will occur with use.
Things like citrus, vinegar, wine or oil will not impact the sealed counter. You should use trivets and potholders but the surface is heat restraint to 450 degrees. It cleans up just like any other surface with all-purpose cleaner or Windex.
Want to try it yourself?
First, I would encourage you to check out Concrete IDEAS web site see more examples for Stan’s work or have a great up close look at the countertops installed at Ellwood Thompson Grocery Store or Cooper Vineyards.
Then if you still want to try a project on your own, Stan points out there is a lot of information out there on the web. His recommendation checking out Youtube for tutorials on a concrete counter project and also visit www.concretenetwork.com. Stan believes that this site is a fountain of information and I would have to agree.
All in all, Stan mixed his science and art to provide his clients with their visions. He also understands how to work upside down and backwards, very important while trying to set a custom integral sink.
Concrete IDEAS, LLC
2121 North Hamilton Street (in Franko-LaFratta shop)
Richmond, VA 23230
804-798-6606 office, 804-359-1507 fax